The relationship between bullying roles and children’s everyday dyadic interactions

Murphy, Suzanne and Faulkner, Dorothy (2011). The relationship between bullying roles and children’s everyday dyadic interactions. Social Development, 20(2) pp. 272–293.



This study investigated the behaviour and communication of seven- to eight-year-old children during a dyadic computer task. The children participating were identified by peers as: (1) initiators of bullying (‘bullies’); (2) defenders of those victimised (‘defenders’); and (3) those who generally do not take on a consistent role in relation to bullying (‘non-role’ children). Children were videotaped during the task and the interaction was coded, 34 dyads participated. Defenders used significantly higher levels of supportive communication such as explanation and guidance than bullies. The task performance of dyads consisting of defenders with non-role children was significantly superior to that of dyads comprising bullies plus non-role children. The behaviour of the non-role children was influenced according to whether they were working with a bully, a defender or another non-role child. The study suggests that the roles that children adopt in relation to bullying influence their behaviour in other, non-bullying

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